Well, it’s that time of year again. The holiday season brings with it warm feelings and many happy childhood memories for me. But now seeing through my adult eyes, I am all too aware of the season’s nasty underbelly. Forced gift-giving, excessive marketing and more disposable packaging and wrapping than I’d even like to contemplate. And this year, a real eye opening moment came when I hopped on Amazon to browse for a gift for a 3 year old niece. Mind you, I don’t have any children so toy shopping is not a common activity for me. Immediately, two things struck me as I scrolled through the seemingly endless pages of colorful toys. First was holy cow, there are a lot of toys in the world! And second was OMG these are all made of plastic! Almost every toy on every page was made out of toxic, environmentally-destructive plastic. And that’s no fun at all.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized how horrible this situation is. How many of these toys will end up in a landfill? Or even worse, how many will find their way into the ocean? I can tell you first hand, it’ll be more than you think. I live on a large creek that feeds into the Delaware river and after big storms, I am always treated to a passing flotilla of toys and other goodies that got washed away from their homes and are ultimately headed out to sea. And here’s another question: how many of these plastic toys will make it into the mouths of their recipients? I’m willing to bet almost all of them. It was nearly overwhelming to continue to scroll through page after page of future plastic junk. But after all, I was on a mission to make a Christmas memory for an innocent young child who knows nothing of pollution or estrogen mimickers. I stuck to my guns and searched on.
Because I try to make my gifts to children educational or inspirational in some way, it didn’t take me too long to come up with several non-plastic solutions. Leaning towards music because of the developmental benefits, as well as being a musician myself, I found plenty of musical instruments and percussion toys that were mostly made of wood. Ultimately, I settled on this great little musically tuned xylophone that is made entirely out of metal and wood.
So, mission accomplished within 20 minutes and I made a couple of additional plastic-free discoveries along the way. The first encouraging find I stumbled upon was a brand of toys called Plan Toys. They make all-natural toys, mostly from wood, which are finished in non-toxic bees wax or food-grade mineral oil. They also claim to be harvesting their wood locally (their factory is in Thailand) in a sustainable way and kiln drying it without any chemicals. They get terrific reviews on Amazon, and in the world at large and seem to have a really good track record (since 1981) and have a really rigorous approach to making safe and healthy toys.
Another good find was a website called palumba.com. They have a very interesting selection of safe and natural toys, arts and crafts, as well as organic clothing for adults and children. They’ve also got a huge selection of “natural living” products for the home, of which I barely scratched the surface. It’s pretty impressive and I recommend you take a look for yourself by clicking here.
OK, I suppose it’s time for me to get back to sugar plum fairies and all that jazz. I was going to lay it on thick about you about why you should really consider opting for non-plastic gifts, but I think you know why. And I really do encourage you to think twice before pulling the trigger on that next plastic toy, or grown up item, and see if you can’t come up with a more natural and meaningful alternative. You can also take a look in our store and you’ll see it’s really not that hard to Replace The Plastic. Happy Holidays everybody! Don’t buy useless crap!